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Yeah, I Think We've Seen that One Before
by Tim Josephs

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When I think of a great actor I think of someone like Sean Penn. He gets so immersed in his roles and is just as believable playing stoner Spicoli as he was as Harvey Milk. But then there are those actors who don't try to stretch themselves (or perhaps they couldn't if they did try), and play the same role over and over.

I'm not really referring to actors in the action/adventure genre. People like Stallone and Schwarzenegger are who they are: mediocre actors who have carved out a niche for themselves. There are also the comedy actors who have done the same thing, folks like Sandler and Rogen and Cera who have developed an on-screen persona and made a career out of it.

But the actors who do this that irk me the most are the ones often considered very good if not great, the ones who have taken home prestigious awards for their "acting." Now, let me state for the record that I haven't seen everything these actors have been in, but I think I've seen enough to make educated observations.

I was going to include Keanu Reeves and Matthew McConaughey but I don't think anyone really believes these guys are great actors, nor will they most likely be winning any awards any time soon. In Keanu's
case, I'm not sure he can do any more than he does acting-wise. I was also going to include frequent McConaughey co-star Kate Hudson until I saw THE KILLER INSIDE ME. It was such a change from her usual drivel and she even looked much different than she normally does, having gained some weight and darkened her hair.

But let's start with an actor I like: Samuel L. Jackson. Although now he pretty much just makes action-type movies and perhaps should be included in the aforementioned Stallone category, it wasn't always that way. He's had a long and distinguished career, appearing in movies for Spike Lee, Steven Spielberg, and Tarantino. And it was for the latter's PULP FICTION that Jackson received an Oscar nomination. The movie is great and Jackson is as well, however it's pretty much the same role he plays in everything: gruff, kind of scary, a little smarter than everyone else. He might as well have gotten a nomination for SNAKES ON A PLANE too.

Alright, who do you think of after this description: charming, goofy, handsome, stuttering, British? If you answered Colin Firth or Michael Sheen, you'd be partially right. Those guys are very good actors who in addition to a variety of different
roles, can play that charming goofball. However, the answer I was looking for is Hugh Grant. He seems to play that guy in everything he's in. He's also won some awards including a Golden Globe for FOUR WEDDING AND A FUNERAL.

Okay, now let's talk about an actor who had success on an NBC show and then became a big movie star. No, its not George Clooney, although he was great on The Facts of Life. I'm referring to Jennifer Aniston. Now, I don't particularly like her. I found her annoying on Friends and in pretty much everything I've seen her in since. I don't understand it when people say she's a great actress. To me she plays the same whiny, irritating person in every film.

Will Smith is another actor who I just find unappealing. Loud, kind of obnoxious, not as funny as he thinks he is. Wait, is that him or all the roles he plays, or both? He always plays the hero, too. It'd be a nice change to see him as a villain for once but I just don't think it will happen anytime soon.

Sandra Bullock recently won the Oscar for Best Actress for THE BLIND SIDE. And ironically enough, she also won the Razzie for Worst Actress for ALL ABOUT STEVE. I've seen both movies. One is pretty
good, the other is not. However, I don't think Bullock is terribly different in either of them. Sure she plays different characters but the acting isn't that varied. Her typical role is cute, goofy, sassy, smart. Ratchet up the goofy, you've got one role, ratchet it down, you've got the other.

Then there's Julia Roberts. I know people love her and I can kind of see why. She's pretty, charming, smart. But I don't understand why she gets the accolades for her acting. I've seen a lot of her films and she's always, well, just Julia Roberts. I've never been watching her in a movie and forgot it was her like I would with the aforementioned Sean Penn. I'll compare her to another award-winning actress. Charlize Theron is gorgeous and could easily coast by on her looks and just play the same role in the same lame romantic comedies. But she's a very good actress and it's obvious she cares about acting from the roles she takes. What would be more unbelievable, Julia Roberts playing that role in MONSTER or her even considering playing it?

Of course this is just a sampling of actors who seemingly always play the same character. Chances are you'll be able to see many more right now at a theater near you.

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Movie Musings
Every other Tuesday

Thoughts, observations, conjectures, complaints about movies and mostly how they relate to me personally. If you're looking for something a little broader, try Ebert.


Other Columns
Other columns by Tim Josephs:

So Long 2013, and MatchFlickers!

The Season for Peace, Presents, & Puncture Wounds

Women are Once Again Kicking Ass

Chewing the Scenery

The Greatest President We Never Had

All Columns


Tim Josephs
Born to write (literally much to the displeasure of his mother, he emerged with a pencil clutched in one tiny fist), Tim spends most of his days crafting epic monosyllabic poems, new comical titles to his favorite Beatles' songs (Hey, Dude), and angry letters to local businesses that have wronged him in some way. He's really an okay guy once you get to know him.


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If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Tim Josephs by clicking here.


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